Update on COVID-19 protocols at Tufts
June 1, 2021
Dear members of the Tufts community,
Following recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Governor Baker’s decision to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions in Massachusetts effective May 29, Tufts University will update its COVID-19 policies and procedures effective June 1, 2021. The changes outlined in this email apply to all Tufts’ campuses and are effective immediately.
Please read the entire email, as it contains important information, and visit https://coronavirus.tufts.edu/ for further details.
This email includes updates on:
- Vaccination Requirements for Students, Faculty & Staff
- Protocols for Mask Wearing, Gatherings, Physical Distancing & Dining
- Testing, Quarantine, Isolation & Daily Health Screening
This email does not include information specific to fall onboarding or life on campus this fall for AS&E undergraduate and graduate students, for students at the other professional and graduate schools, or for staff. These updates will be communicated soon. Additional restrictions may apply in healthcare settings (e.g., Tufts Health Service and Tufts Dental and Veterinary Schools). Please follow posted guidance in these settings.
Vaccination requirements for students, faculty & staff
All vaccines approved by another country or the World Health Organization (WHO) will be accepted as meeting Tufts’ requirement for vaccination. Individuals who have received a non-WHO approved vaccine may be offered one approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Students (including undergraduate, graduate, professional, and non-traditional students) must be vaccinated prior to participating in on-campus classes or activities. For students in the School of Arts and Sciences (including the SMFA at Tufts), School of Engineering, School of Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Dental Medicine, Fletcher School, Friedman School, and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, the deadline for vaccination will be July 1. We will assist students who have limited access to a vaccine in meeting this requirement shortly after their arrival on campus. Like other vaccine requirements in place for students, medical and religious accommodation will be considered. More details about this policy, including information on how to submit proof of vaccination status, is posted at tufts.edu/covidvaccine.
Faculty & Staff
- All faculty and staff are required to provide documentation of COVID-19 vaccination, request a medical or religious accommodation, or complete a declination form indicating a decision to decline vaccination by August 15 at the latest. More details about this policy, including information on how to submit proof of vaccination status, is posted at tufts.edu/covidvaccine.
Protocols for mask wearing, gatherings, physical distancing & dining
- Fully vaccinated individuals (defined as 14+ days after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or 14+ days after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) are not required to wear masks or physically distance outside. However, individuals who feel more comfortable wearing a mask outdoors for whatever reason, are encouraged to do so.
- Non-vaccinated individuals are advised to continue wearing face masks and physically distance outdoors until they are fully vaccinated.
- Tufts requires that all individuals, whether vaccinated or not, continue to wear masks indoors, except when alone in an office or when eating. We hope that the indoor mask requirement may be eased at a later date. This decision will be based on future levels of vaccination coverage within the Tufts community (students, faculty, and staff), our neighboring communities, and the state, and ongoing low incidence of COVID-19 infections. Even after routine mask wearing indoors is dropped, there may be certain circumstances (e.g., very large indoor gatherings) where their use may be encouraged or people may feel more comfortable wearing them.
- Per the state’s guidance, face coverings are required for all individuals on public and private transportation (including rideshares, livery, taxis, ferries, MBTA, Commuter Rail and transportation stations), in healthcare facilities, congregate care settings, and health and rehabilitative day services.
Gatherings & Room Occupancy
- There are no limits on the size of indoor or outdoor gatherings. Standard pre-COVID room occupancy limits will apply, including in conference rooms, offices, classrooms, laboratories, gyms, studios, and libraries.
- People are no longer required to remain six or more feet apart outdoors or indoors, including in conference rooms, offices, classrooms, laboratories, gyms, studios, and libraries.
- Until high vaccination coverage among on-campus faculty, staff, and students can be verified, we encourage outdoor dining throughout the summer and early fall.
- All in-person events and office parties should be held outside with prepackaged food.
- Indoor dining returns to pre-pandemic capacity and we encourage everyone, particularly those who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, to use good judgement when it comes to their proximity to others while eating in any setting.
- Faculty and staff are discouraged from taking breaks or eating in large groups indoors.
- For events, food will be prepackaged; self-service buffets and potluck are not permitted.
Testing, quarantine, isolation & Daily Health screening
- COVID-19 surveillance testing will be once a week for all students, faculty, staff, affiliates, and vendors who are on campus regularly and in contact with others. For other circumstances, see guidance on Testing at Tufts.
- Vaccinated close contacts of a COVID-19 case will not be required to quarantine; however, they must participate fully in the contact tracing process and monitor themselves for symptoms of infection. Those identified as close contacts by Tufts contact tracers will be instructed on who to contact if symptoms develop.
- Unvaccinated close contacts of a COVID-19 case must quarantine. Unvaccinated close contacts will be tested on day 6 or 7 after the exposure and released from quarantine on day 8, if negative, with symptom monitoring for a total of 14 days.
- Vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will isolate at home or in the mods (Somerville/Medford/SMFA students only) for 10 days. Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 either through Tufts University surveillance or externally is expected to participate fully in the contact tracing process and identification of close contacts. Per state guidance, individuals with a positive COVID-19 test must be cleared by a medical professional prior to return to classes or to work.
Daily Health Screening
- While the prevalence of COVID-19 has fallen dramatically, the virus has not been eliminated and the potential for serious illness from infection remains, especially among immunocompromised and or unvaccinated members of the community.
- All faculty, staff, affiliates, and students who are coming to or living on campus are required to complete the daily health status survey. This is critically important since even those who are vaccinated can become infected and transmit the virus, though the likelihood is significantly reduced.
- Students, faculty, and staff should stay home when feeling sick! Individuals with flu-like symptoms should seek medical care and receive a negative COVID-19 test before returning to work or classes.
For more details on testing, quarantine, isolation, and daily health screening, visit Testing at Tufts.
The information in this section applies to visitors who are not already part of the regular surveillance testing on campus.
- Visitors who are indoors and wearing a mask at all times do not need to be tested.
- Visitors who are indoors and are in situations where eating and drinking will happen (e.g., indoor event, luncheon, or coffee) are required to be tested, irrespective of vaccination status.
- Visitors who interact with patients in a healthcare setting (e.g., dental exam proctors) are required to be tested.
- Visitors who provide students with hands-on instruction are required to be tested.
- Outdoor visitors do not need to be tested, but unvaccinated visitors should wear face masks and physically distance.
- Visitors are permitted to use indoor restrooms on campus (masks must be worn).
- For more details on testing for campus visitors, please see Testing at Tufts.
- All domestic and personal international travel is allowed without restrictions.
- All Tufts-related international travel must follow the current review process, including approval by the dean or division VP’s office and review by the ITRC for students and by the Integrative Safety Committee (ISC) for research-related travel.
- All travelers (personal and Tufts-related) must follow arrival quarantine protocols according to their vaccination status.
- All travelers should be familiar with and follow local guidance at their destination.
- Even if fully vaccinated, travelers should follow safe travel guidelines to protect themselves and others.
For details on arrival testing for both domestic and international travelers, including unvaccinated international students arriving for summer or fall courses, see Testing at Tufts.
In collaboration with local and state boards of health, we will continue to monitor and respond to local, national, and international data and trends. Thus, our guidance may change. However, our primary objective is to create and maintain a very positive experience for students, faculty and staff throughout the summer and into the fall. During this time of transition, it is important that everyone respects other community members who may wish to continue wearing a mask or practice physical distancing. People have different levels of comfort, and we remain responsible for protecting, supporting, and looking out for the physical and mental health of one another.
With best wishes,
Michael R. Jordan, M.D., M.P.H.
University Infection Control Health Director
Note: the word “exemption” was changed to “accommodation” in this email and noted in bold italic text to align with the university’s COVID-19 vaccination policies for students, faculty and staff, and vendors and affiliates.